Maybe you have heard of these words going around. Needless consumption, endless consumption, responsible consumption, zero waste, eco friendly, sustainability, green, recycled, materialistic lifestyle or minimalism. In short, these are the current marketing buzzwords targeting environmental impacts. Or words that make us feel good when a company says their products are sustainable, recycled or whatever bull-shit they are using to make you buy their products.
Needless consumption or a consumer’s morels are constructed on not valuing a person on 1. How they care. 2. Their creativity. 3. Or the strength of their community. Instead, we value ourselves on how many commodities we have. This also pushes us away from ethical questions on how those commodities are made or the well being they have on communities. The number one priority of a company is to make more profit.
We are too materialistic, we are valuing vanity and are gluttonous because of this mindset we have been trained and manipulated to believe. So we can either choose to be materialistically obsessed with money and possessions, making us shallow and selfish. Or you could reject these desires and focus on more important aspects of the spirit. Now in truth, most of us are somewhere in between. We lean a little to the left on some subjects and a little or the right on others.
This is hard to get bearings on a good morel compose when it comes to consumption. Because as human beings, we need to consume to survive. We need to drink water, eat plants and animals to nourish ourselves. We need to destroy trees and our environment in order to build ourselves shelter. We are innate to the laws of entropy that we create in order to survive. So what should one do?
We can’t just sit under a tree like the Buddha or live in the streets. We as humans need to work, we need to consume in order to function and have a purpose in life. This is something I personally am struggling with, I want to live a minimalistic lifestyle and also want to save for retirement and take care of my family. Under the current system that means I need to help sell meaningless crap to the masses. I am a part of the problem, I know this. I just don’t subscribe to it, but I’ll happily take the paycheck. Does that make me a bad person?
So what can the individual do? They say that we need to vote with our dollars. But in truth, this way of thinking doesn’t work, because we are fastened to a system that regardless of what we buy still creates destruction. I have no control over how a company gathers resources or how my government runs our country. We have a say, but change takes the majority. And who in their right mind would want to give away the assets they have obtained. Or downgrade their comfortable lifestyles.
It’s a conundrum that falls onto the individual and the individual is blamed for something outside of their control. Sure I can buy high-quality goods that last me a lifetime. But this happened with the creation of the lightbulb in the 1920s. They were lasting too long, and when customers stop buying your products because they only need one, that’s bad for business growth. So now companies regardless of quality have a system built into their products called, planned obsolescence. We just can’t win or do right at the individual level. The main reason people upgrade their phones isn’t that there is a newer model, it’s because your battery life gets shorter and the response time of your phone slows. Do you think that is degradation or planned obsolescence?
I’ve said this before, I am the worst person for the economy. Because I don’t subscribe to needless consumption, and here is how I do it. First, if I want something I have to want it for at least a year before I buy it. Two once I buy that item I only replace or upgrade it once that item no longer works or falls apart. Three I try to only buy high-quality items that last. Now, this only applies to certain items. Because I can get a perfectly good set of UV protective sunglasses for 20$ instead of high-quality sunglasses that cost $200+. Four I only own one item of that type. For example, I own three types of shoes, one set of running shoes, one pair of working shoes and one pair of dress shoes. I only own one phone. I only own one TV. Each item I own has a specific function or purpose. I don’t need multiples of the same thing.
This lifestyle isn’t for everyone, I get that. I ask you why you might think that this might not be a lifestyle for you? Really ask why do you think you need more, or a new whatever. What is that for, who is that for, what purpose does it fulfil. Or do I have something that already does it? Does it make my life easier or am I just being lazy and not using something that can adapt to do the same function.
Needless consumption is a hard one to tackle, and I don’t see a fix in the current capitalist way of thinking. Degrowth, Sarvodaya, Anarchism, Voluntaryism, Demarchy to name a few alternatives that we need to start debating about. Change needs to start at the top, because the people at the bottom have little to no power, unlike what they would like you to believe when it comes to democracy and our voting power. Because our current state isn’t great for minorities groups and our planet. Change only happens when you are uncomfortable or backed into a corner, and that corner is the extinction of the human race on mass.
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